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13 Dec 2010 | Greater Good Science Centre
Holiday shopping can be terrifying, yes. But research suggests
it's worth it: New studies attest to the benefits of giving-not
just for the recipients but for the givers' health and happiness,
and for the strength of entire communities.
Of course, you don't have to shop to reap the benefits of
giving. Research suggests the same benefits come from donating to
charities or volunteering your time, like at a soup kitchen or a
A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton
and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted
participants' happiness more that spending it on themselves
(despite participants' prediction that spending on themselves would
make them happier). Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor
of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw
similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of
kindness each week for six weeks.
These good feelings are reflected in our biology. In a 2006
study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of
Health found that when people give to charities, it activates
regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection,
and trust, creating a "warm glow" effect. Scientists also believe
that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain,
producing the positive feeling known as the "helper's high."
Read article here
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